Reviewing this book has been long overdue, considering it’s become my favourite book series. But then finding a good book to read can be like picking the best clothes to wear: There’s many of the same variation but only certain clothes really do it for you. The importance of a man’s clothing comes into play within the swashbuckling debut novel of Sebastien De Castell called Traitor’s Blade. Although The Greatcoats series has been out for a few years, going back to where it all began is still an enjoyable read.
Traitor’s Blade tells the story of Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats. He’s out to fulfill his dead king’s final request to track down his ‘Charoite’ jewels. The Greatcoats were a proud order who find themselves disgraced and ridiculed, seen as nothing more than traitors and tatter-cloaks.
Joining Falcio are his two friends Kest and Brasti who exude a Three Musketeers vibe as soon as the book commences. Their friendship is established quickly, and like good friends their squabbling makes for an entertaining read. Within a few pages there’s talk of erections and herbs in the same sentence that still makes me laugh out loud.
Each are presented with their own skills and flaws that compliment each other. Add to that a world of anti-heroes and villains around every corner and the trio must put every sword trick, strategy and technique they know to stay alive.
The plot has twists and turns that are peppered with powerful fight sequences. They speak from De Castell’s experience as a professional fight choreographer.
The detail he places in Falcio wielding his rapiers is the mark of someone who has gripped a sword countless times. Every detail is precise. Each action sequence feels cinematic, as if you’re watching it unfold and holding your breath to see who comes out as victor.
The humour is uplifting, contrasting with the bleak situations that build up. The reader is firmly on Falcio’s side. More than once I was questioning whether the poor guy was ever going to catch a break. Flashbacks are woven together with current events without disrupting momentum. There’s a sense that each memory helps to strengthen Falcio against the adversity he’s forced to overcome.
Traitor’s Blade is a scintillating debut novel that combines rapier sharp wit, fast-paced fight scenes and a compelling protagonist. I’d recommend it for any fantasy reader’s book shelf.